Thursday, May 15, 2014

Giving in DR Congo and the Central African Republic

Our giving continues at rapid speed!  We are proud to announce two more giving partners, Channel Initiative ( and the Footprints Foundation (

What I like about both of these organizations is that they were each started by women who saw a need and with a sense of determination and hope seek to make change in the world.  More specifically, these women are working to save the lives of women and children in some of the most difficult environments where maternal and child mortality rates are high.

Channel Initiative provides life saving medical care and supplies in rural areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, currently ranked as one of the world's worst places to be a mother.  In places like the DRCongo, being pregnancy can be a death sentence, and many children die before the age of 5.  We are especially proud that Channel is working to have an impact on the thousands of refugees in camps in the Central African Republic (CAR).  The situation in these camps is dire, and we are hoping to send some of our pajamas with the team from Channel Initiative later this summer.  We are also working to send pajama patterns along with our pajamas so that women on the ground in rural DRCongo and CAR can learn to sew their own pajamas for their children, a way of perpetuating the cycles of giving.

Footprints Foundation is impressive in the ways that they work in local communities to train midwives and community health workers to participate in caring for needs in their communities.  By training and offering supplies on the ground, communities can be empowered to make changes and save lives.  Footprints works in DRCongo, Samaliland (part of Somalia that gained independence in 1991) and Jamaica.

We are grateful to these giving partners and hope to make a small difference with our pajamas.   Please check out these organizations on line and on Facebook to see the amazing work they are doing!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Our newest Giving Partner Africa Health New Horizons

We are proud to announce our newest giving partner Africa Health New Horizons.  This wonderful organization, founded by a doctor from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dr. Kigabo Mbazumutima, serves the Great Lakes region of East Africa.  Through a partnership with Arizona State University, Dr. Mbazumutima and his team serve Burundi, Rwanda, and The Democratic Republic of the Congo.  They work to save lives in this region of very high rates of malnutrition and maternal and infant death.  Our pajamas are going to a hospital in the Southern Region of Rwanda called the Munini District Hospital.

Please see the amazing work this organization is doing from the ground up: or visit them on Facebook.

This is yet another example of people working, with determination and compassion, to make the world a better place.

We look forward to seeing our donated pajamas on children in Southern Rwanda!

The Great Lakes

On the last day of our time in Burundi in February 2013, my dad and I had an opportunity to speak to a large group of people at the Village Health Works Clinic.  We heard stories from people of the hardships they faced, particularly with sick children.  One man stood up and told us about his child's epilepsy and how difficult and scary it had been before coming to the clinic to receive a diagnosis and treatment.  People were in tears as they recounted their stories.

My dad and I had an opportunity to speak.  My dad, a priest by training and an eloquent speaker, started by talking about our family.  We trace our history to the Great Lakes region of the United States, from the midwest where my family immigrated generations ago.  We still spend our summers on the banks of Lake Michigan.

In Burundi, not far from where we were, stood the banks of the Great Lakes region of Africa where one of the deepest lakes in the world, Lake Tanganyika, boarders Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  From Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, one sees the mountains of the Democratic Republic of the Congo across the lake, and the sight is breathtaking.  The serenity and beauty of this place is reminiscent of the Great Lakes we know, but bordered by extreme poverty and the tragedy of war and violence.

My dad spoke to the people about our journey from the banks of our Great Lake region to theirs and our connection to each other across time and space.  The sense of the universality of the human experience felt so raw in those moments as I imagined myself as a parent of a child who was sick and whom I could not help.  Permeating the conversation was the realization that, perhaps more than anything, the sense of feeling forgotten or alone is one that holds its own sense of grief.  The fact that we were there, and the acknowledgment of existence and suffering seemed to offer a sense of relief and solace.

Here are some pictures of these moments:

I am remembering this experience now as we prepare pajamas to give to our newest giving partner African Health New Horizons, serving the Great Lakes region of Africa.  More on their work in the next post.